The New Rules of the Road

Person driving on an open road at sunset

The New Rules of the Road

By Margaret Wilson & Ann Quinn

This time last year, we thought we were looking back on the longest 12 months ever. We couldn’t have known then that 2021 would be equally challenging and memorable. Yet even now, when things have been difficult for so long, our present situation doesn’t have to define our future direction. It only tells us where we’re starting from. From here, we offer six essential rules for business leaders to keep you safe and on the right road.

  1. Focus on the Windshield. With all the changes we’ve been through recently, the rear view mirror is not a reliable predictor of the future. Your business model is different, your workforce is in flux and uncertainty has increased exponentially. Don’t simply dust off your 2019 strategy and make incremental adjustments. Recent performance is more instructive than years of history.
  2. Keep Your Eyes Moving. As you move on down the road, scan the environment all around you. Constantly shift your focus to your customers, employees, the market, and supply chain. If you pulled back from your network or relationships during the pandemic, it’s time to plug back in and widen your perspective. Active eyes keep up with changing conditions.
  3. Dust Off Your Learner’s Permit. Many of you have learned a lot over the past 20 months. Any shifts that you’ve made in your business model provide a great starting point for 2022. Start with an honest appraisal of your organization and be open to learning, assessing, and making adjustments. These adjustments aren’t always easy, but our current environment requires it.
  4. Ditch the Distractions. Are clunky processes slowing you down? Are underachievers taking up your time? If so, you may be spending too much time avoiding potholes, and not enough time addressing them. We can’t afford distractions that use resources but don’t create value. While there is certainly plenty of disruption around us, removing obstacles remains a key leadership responsibility.
  5. Don’t Ignore the Check Engine Light. Nothing strikes terror in the heart like that CHECK ENGINE light. Yet many of us keep driving even after we know we should pull over. Organizations that are wedded to fixed structures and processes are ignoring the warning signs and will continue to struggle. Those who cultivate their strategic assets to get work done, execute on business strategy and satisfy customers, will continue to thrive.
  6. Don’t Pass the Rest Stop. In crises past, your response might have been to hunker down, power through and take a breather once it was over. But that was then, and this is now. Stop using the pandemic as a reason to neglect your physical, mental and emotional health. Your burned-out workforce is counting on you to model the way.

True recovery means building an organization that can thrive in the face of continuous change. Let’s stop waiting for things to get back to normal and re-set what it means to be successful today.

Ann Quinn and Quinn Strategy Group regularly collaborate with Tandem Partners, developing programs and tools in support of organizational strategy, planning and growth. You can use their latest tool here: Clear Strategy – Cohesive Team